“Spades are trumps” – recovering a field piece on Morris Island

Before tracking down the New York Tribune report on the floating battery’s (possible) demise, I was not aware of this vignette:

Dec. 15 – Saturday morning, while the tide was receding, one of the privates of the 3d R.I. Battery discovered from Fort Putnam, on the beach, what he thought might be a brass field-piece.  He asked and obtained permission to go and see.  So he armed himself with a spade.  A few minutes soon revealed to the delighted soldier a beautiful brass 12-pounder.  Twelve men were immediately detailed to carry it into the fort, which was done successfully under a brisk fire from Moultrie.  As soon as it was in the fort it was mounted in a good position, ready at a moment’s notice to be used against its old friends.  The spade, in the course of the day, brought to the surface 500 rounds of solid shot, that just suited the caliber of the piece.  It is thought that the Rebels, before evacuating Gregg, buried a quantity of ammunition of all sorts.  A few days will decide the matter.  The Rhode Island 3d thinks “spades are trumps” in this case at least.

The regimental history of the 3rd Rhode Island carries no mention of this incident.  Surprising, as that volume contains several trivial and sometimes humorous episodes from the actions on Morris Island.  The mention of solid shot leads me to believe the piece referenced was a Napoleon gun.  But there’s not enough information to be sure.

Makes you wonder if much else lays just off the coast of Morris Island.  Also makes me double down in my research into the newspaper accounts of the Charleston operations!

Published by Craig Swain

"Historical marker hunter" and Civil War enthusiast.

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